Mike Huckabee | Candidates on Common Core

Mike Huckabee | Candidates on Common Core | HSLDA Blog

Mike Huckabee | Candidates on Common Core | HSLDA Blog

Every week leading up to the 2016 Primary Season, HSLDA will post a profile for one of the 2016 Presidential candidates on Homeschooling Now, highlighting where each stands on the Common Core State Standards Initiative. For more information on the Common Core, check out our free resources at HSLDA.org/CommonCore.



  • Governor of Arkansas (1996-2007)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas (1992-1996)

CURRENT POSITION: Opposes the Common Core

PAST POSITION: Supported the Common Core


  • 2011: Huckabee publishes his book “A Simple Government,” which praises Race to the Top: “I fully endorse the new federal program Race to the Top, which has states compete for additional education funds, allowing them to decide what reforms to enact rather than having specific reforms imposed on them from above.”
  • 2013: Sends letter to Oklahoma state lawmakers encouraging them to :resist any attempt to delay implementation: of Common Core; Huckabee urges Common Core supporters to “rebrand” the standards to avoid controversy; begins backing away from support of the name “Common Core”. 
  • 2015: Comes out in opposition to the CC standards, saying they have been hijacked by the federal government.


“While I believe such standards make sense for public schools in math and English, I support parents’ freedom of choice to educate their children however they want, including homeschooling, regardless of the standards that are applied in a public school setting.” —Huckabee’s Facebook Post on May 2013

““It’s disturbing to me there have been criticisms of these [Common Core] standards directed by other conservatives,” he said. “I’ve heard the argument these standards ‘threaten local control’ of what’s being taught in Oklahoma classrooms. Speaking from one conservative to another, let me assure you this simply is not true … They’re not something to be afraid of; indeed they are something to embrace.” —Letter to Oklahoma lawmakers, June 2013, via Washington Times

“I don’t support what Common Core has become in many states or school districts. I’m dead set against the federal government creating a uniform curriculum for any subject; I oppose the collection of personal data on students that would identify them and track them and any effort to give that personal information to the federal government. … I’m convinced that the term Common Core needs to disappear from the lexicon of education policy. It’s a toxic term because it’s come to mean things that most of us can’t stomach, like top-down federal intrusion into the local schools where you live. But Common Core as it was designed had nothing to do with the federal government. It was conceived and controlled by elected governors and state school chiefs to keep the federal hands from interfering. It only dealt with two subjects, math and English, and in those two subjects, established only state-initiated standards in those subjects, and intentionally did not write or even suggest curriculum. It set voluntary goals — VOLUNTARY goals — controlled by local school boards.” —Huckabee’s Website, December 2013, via Washington Post

In regards to the name Common Core” becoming toxic, “Rebrand it, refocus it, but don’t retreat.”
—Meeting with the Council of Chief State School Officers (one of the groups that developed Common Core), January 2014, via the Washington Post

“[A]nybody who tells you that I support Common Core is either incredibly less informed than he or she pretends to be, or is just being plain dishonest because they really want to help somebody else, and not me, and that’s okay. … “Folks, what Common Core may have originally been was a governor-controlled states initiative to keep the fickle federal fingers of fate off of education. It has morphed into a frankenstandard that nobody, including me, can support.” —Speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit, January 2015 via Breitbart News

“[I] oppose Common Core and believe we should abolish the federal department of education. We must kill Common Core and restore common sense.” —Huckabee’s Campaign Website, 2015

Mike Huckabee | Candidates on Common Core | HSLDA Blog


SUMMARY: Huckabee has been quickly backing away from his support of the standards. His staunch support of Common Core in the beginning continued past the point where the standards became unpopular, particularly in the Republican Party. He has urged education leaders to ditch the Common Core name and call it by state-friendly terminology – i.e., the “Iowa Core.” He now opposes the Common Core and justifies his shift in viewpoint by arguing the standards were “hijacked” by the federal government.

— Andrew Mullins and Lauren Mitchell

Photo Credit: First image graphic design by Andrew Mullins and Charity Klicka; second image by Gage Skidmore.

18 thoughts on “Mike Huckabee | Candidates on Common Core

  1. This is a very misleading article and only serves to add to the confusion over the Mike Huckabee’s stand on Common Core and is very disappointing coming from HSLDA which I have supported since its founding.

    Mike Huckabee supported the Common Core STATE Standards Initiative and NEVER supported the FEDERAL version of Common Core.

    You may want to mention that when HSLDA called Lt. Gov. Mike Huckabee about a homeschooling problem in Arkansas in 1996 he intervened on behalf of homeschooling families. Then in 1997, as Governor, he overturned restrictive homeschooling laws in Arkansas.

    Again, this is clearly a misleading and harmful post by Andrew Mullins.

    Click to access huckabee_homeschool_record.pdf


    • Mike Huckabee says, “A pro-Common Core group is using my name without permission and attributing ideas to me that are wholly untrue. I have stated many times over that I oppose Common Core and anyone who says otherwise is either misinformed or not telling the truth. I believe education is a family function, not a federal function – period. Nothing is more emblematic of Washington arrogance and reckless central planning than Common Core. The federal government has stuck its obtrusive nose into local education and hijacked the system. We must kill Common Core and restore common sense.”


    • Mike Huckabee and many other governors came up with the Original Common Core, which covered only math and language, it was voluntary and it was to be TOTALLY controlled by the State’s local school boards and parents. Then the Federal Government hijacked the name, Common Core, made a socialist program, took personal information from the students about their parents, and it was to be TOTALLY controlled by the Federal Government. Mike Huckabee has NEVER supported the Federal Government controlling our children’s education. Mike Huckabee wrote to some of the other Governor’s and told them to rename the GOVERNOR’S ORIGINAL COMMON CORE because both programs had the same name, He told them to keep the excellent standards that the Governor’s came up with and told them not to retreat. Mike Huckabee was talking about the ORIGINAL Common Core NOT the Federal Government controlled Common Core. So, if you ever heard Mike Huckabee say anything positive about Common Core, HE was referring to the ORIGINAL Common Core, NOT the Federal Government controlled Common Core. Huckabee’s enemies saw his comments and twisted the facts to be that Huckabee was talking about the Federal Government controlled Common Core, but that was a lie. Now that I have explained to you that there were two programs, and Mike Huckabee did NOT flip flop because there were TWO programs.


  2. This is misleading and harmful to Mike Huckabee and only serves to add confusion over his stand on Common Core. It is very disappointing coming from HSLDA which I have supported since it’s founding. Mike Huckabee supported the Common Core STATE Standards Initiative and never supported the FEDERAL version of Common Core. When HSLDA called Lt. Gov. Huckabee about a homeschooling problem in AR in 1996, he intervened on behalf of homeschooling families. Then in 1997, as Gov., he overturned restrictive homeschooling laws in AR. Here is the story behind Gov. Huckabee’s support for homeschooling: http://www.hucksarmy.com/downloads/huckabee_homeschool_record.pdf


  3. This is completely misleading. The common core that Huckabee supported was NOT the federal version. The Govs. Assn. originally created Common Core as a voluntary standard for the states in 2 subjects only Math and English. It was a measurement and had nothing to do with curriculum. The Obama administration co-opted the name for their federal take-over of education. Please read about the history of it here: http://www.thetruthaboutmikehuckabee.com/p/common-core.html


  4. “A great example of a good idea gone bad is Common Core, which has become the whipping boy of the left and right. I’m not sure who hates it the most, but the very mention of it gets the veins on people’s necks bulging. If there is anything less than a primal scream demanding that anyone who does or who has ever supported Common Core should be burned at the stake, then that person is the same as a Communist sympathizer or child molester, not worthy of his or her next breath of air.
    Common Core is dead, and because of what it has become in most states should be. But the origins were pretty simple and straightforward and were actually launched by conservatives to keep education standards under the control of local school boards and states and out of the hands of the federal government.
    The concept grew from an effort that conservative Republican governors like Jeb Bush of Florida, Tommy Thompson (Wisconsin governor who pioneered school vouchers in Milwaukee), John Engler of Michigan, and I all supported. It was an initiative called “Achieve,” and an effort of the National Governors Association to do three things: raise academic standards to be rigorous and consistent; measuring the performance of students to determine how well they were doing against those standards; and hold the stakeholders (teachers, administrators, students, and, yes, even politicians) responsible for the results.
    Many of us feared an increasing role of the federal government in education mandates and were strenuously opposed to that both on constitutional grounds and practical ones. The federal government has no role to play in education. It’s the purview of the states and the local communities through their elected school boards. Further, most every governor I’ve known believes as did the Founders that states are the laboratories of democracy where ideas and innovations get created and tested. If they work, other states will adopt them. If they don’t work, we don’t end up making a fifty-state mistake. Experience had also been a cruel teacher to governors as to what happens when the federal government wants to get in the middle of local school decisions. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) hatched in the 1970s proved to be a financial trap for states who were promised money by the feds to pay for fully integrating all persons, including those with developmental disabilities, into regular classrooms, replacing the traditional “special education” model. The states have been left holding the bag ever since and the federal government never fulfilled even a fraction of its commitment to fully fund it. It’s why those of us who went through that nightmare in the 1990s were adamantly opposed to Obamacare mandates for Medicaid, despite big assurances that the federal government would cover the cost for the first three years. We’d all heard that song and dance before. And it ends on a very sour note!
    Common Core was the natural outgrowth of the standards sought from back in the late 1990s. It was pushed by the National Governors Association, and forty-four states initially signed on because it would keep authority and control at the state level but would establish a cooperative set of standards for two (and only two) subjects: math and language arts. There was not one bit regarding curriculum, data collection on students or schools that would go to the federal government, and nothing with Common Core would involve science, history, the arts, or any area of study other than math and language arts, period.
    As I tried unsuccessfully to explain to parents the intent (not however, the outcome), I used a sports analogy. If an eighth grader plays on a basketball team in Oregon, and moves to South Carolina, he should have a reasonable expectation that the basic rules of the game will be the same. The rim of the goal will be ten feet from the floor; the court will measure eighty –four feet long by fifty feet wide, and the free throw line will be fifteen feet from the point on the floor directly beneath the blackboard. If every state, every district, and every team could make up its own standards, imagine the chaos in a state tournament when one team shot the ball toward a goal ten feet off the floor, while another played on a court where the goal was only seven feet off the floor. Those boys used to a seven-foot goal probably thought they were all pretty amazing players to be able to slam dunk the ball at will, but they will be creamed when they play the team that is used to playing with much more rigorous standards.
    No matter how many times I’ve repeated that analogy, I am utterly frustrated that what was supposed to be state-controlled standards in two areas has morphed into a federal behemoth. Even now I get emails and posts on my Web site that say, “Mike Huckabee supports Common Core; I’ll never vote for him or even listen to him, ever!” Okay that’s your prerogative, but while I agree that Common Core has become an unmanageable Frankenstandard kidnapped by the federal government, please tell me that you do insist on standards to be clear, that measurements should be taken to see if we’re achieving them, and that if enormous amount of money we’re spending isn’t effective, we’ll fire people, hire new ones, and get the job done.
    The controversy over Common Core may have an unintended benefit for those of us who believe that education decisions should be made by Mom and Dad, not Uncle Sam. If it’s further driven a wedge between the freedom of parents and the force of the federal government, than good! We need to keep the federal fingers off our kids.”-Mike Huckabee, GGGG, p.177-179


  5. This article misrepresents the real timeline and facts. Huckabee does not support common core. Initially, when first concepted, it was meant to allow states to set standards for math and English. No curriculum voluntary. Since then the Feds (Obama) has taken this concept, kept the name, and made it into mandates and curriculum that is ridiculous. I support Mike Huckabee for he is the best leader we have running for president.


  6. Huckabee was NEVER for the federal version of Common Core! He was for the original state initiative that governors were working on with teachers, and PTA’S trying to come up with a plan for students transferring to different school districts. The original version was a voluntary plan for deciding when – NOT how- to teach common concepts in math and English so if students relocated to different school districts they wouldn’t be too far behind in their studies that it would make it even harder to adjust to the new school. The federal government hijacked the volunteer state initiative and “morphed it into something it was never meant to be!”


  7. I am a mother with thirteen years of experience homeschooling my daughters. I can say unequivocally that if Governor Huckabee was a supporter of Common Core I would not be a supporter of his campaign for President. Governor Huckabee’s position on education is very conservative. He believes parents ultimately are the ones best equipped to determine how best to educate their children. During his tenure as Governor, he appointed a homeschool mom to the Arkansas Department of Education. Michael Farris endorsed Governor Huckabee for President in 2008.


  8. I believe Huckabee’s position to be consistent and opposed to all that we oppose in Common Core. He is thoughtful enough to support common sense reform but when that reform morphs into the current monstrosity he vigously opposes it. I applaud his view and urge those who oppose him to reconsider.


  9. I have discussed Common Core and educational issues with the Governor over the past year. I am satisfied that he does NOT support federal controls over educational standards and encourages states to locally control testing and working with other states to provide ease of transitions for children moving to new schools ect. As a homeschooler, I support Gov Huckabee’s evolution to his current position -much as many of us evolved from public educational systems to our own homeschool beliefs grew over time and experience. His ability to learn and listen and discern truth while respecting individual choice is unique in today’s world. I have no qualms trusting the Gov with educational issues should he win in 2016.


  10. While I firmly believe that Mr. Huckabee has made an about face on CommonCore, the mantra he hand his supporters use of two CommonCores to explain his position is false.

    But the big problem is his encouraging others to lie. He encouraged the creators of CC, the CCSS, to be deceptive and just change the name, “at a time when CommonCore, as he puts it, had evolved into something else”

    I expect this behavior,unfortunately, from lawyer turned politicians, not preacher turned politicians. SHAMEFUL even if he is an opponent of CC.



  11. I don’t think common core is any good. My daughter is in the 5th grade at a public school that has been using common core since it started and she can’t even multiply basic numbers and can’t divide the way I was taught. If she gets caught trying to use her fingers to help she gets bad marks for the day. Now she is probably going to fail this year because they didn’t teach her the basics and the way I try to show her the teacher said is wrong. This school is in Arkansas


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